The Customer Validation Stage is the GPS for sales and marketing. “The sales roadmap is the playbook of proven and repeatable sales process that has been field-tested by successfully selling the product to early customers.” (Blank, 2013, pg. ) A key player in this stage is what Blank calls “Earlyvangelists.” They are the first set of customers who believed in your vision. “They will pay for the product-sometimes months or even years before it is completed.” (pg. 110) We are still not going to get ahead of ourselves here to sell. So therefore a sales force is not necessary yet. It is about predictable forecasting of repeat buyers/sales and a big GREEN light for your sales model.
These basic GPS questions need to be answered to ensure a sales blueprint. (pg.111)
- Are we sure we have product/market fit?
- Who influences a sale?
- Who is the decision maker?
- Who is the economic buyer?
- Who is the saboteur?
- Where is the budget for purchasing the type of product you’re selling?
- How many sales calls are needed per sale?
- How long does an average sale take from beginning to end?
- Is this a solution sale?
- If so what are ‘key customer problems’
- What is the profile of the optimal visionary buyer, the Earlyvangelist every startup needs?
I want to profile the Earlyvangelist, which is a key force on your startup journey. The Earlyvangelist will to plug into your vision without a product. “The Earlyvangelist does not just buy your product; they buy your vision. The vision of your enterprise is what binds the Earlyvangelist to your company.” (Kroonenburg, 2016) But why will they jump off this cliff with you? Blank suggests, “They may do so because they perceive a competitive advantage in the market, bragging rights with peers in their neighborhood or in an industry, or political advantage with their company…; they not only understand they have a problem, but are looking for a solution, to the point of trying to build their own.” (pg. 112) Stop one minute here. This customer isn’t an angel investor. Remember we are talking about the people who will purchase this product or service, not the one who wants to invest. They are looking for a practical dividend instead of a financial one.
They see the bright light at the end of their problem tunnel and are mesmerized by your solution. They “get it”… but not from a “suit….” but the founders not the salesperson. So you are still hands on cultivating the relationship. It is essential to identify your Earlyvangelist. They are your sales and marketing; taking your product or service “…inside their companies and throughout their industry-or as consumers, to their friends and neighbors. Treated correctly they are the ultimate reference accounts.” (pg. 112) Now you see why a sales team isn’t need at this point. The Earlyvangelist have their place in your history for this stage of customer validation. They are the customers that you discovered by hitting the pavement.
Who are your Earlyvangelists?
Blank, S. G. (2013). The four steps to the epiphany: successful strategies for products that win. California: Steve Blank
Kroonenburg, M. V. (2016, August 03). Earlyvangelists, your first and most important clients. Retrieved February 24, 2017, from http://www.bwventures.nl/Earlyvangelists/
ENT 601- Reflections-Week 6